In an ideal world, schools needing to upgrade their technology suite will have plenty of time up their sleeves to do it correctly. Countless weeks to strategise, many months to get their teams onboard, and years to carefully roll out changes that impact their entire community.
The reality is often far more rushed, with important deadlines and key goals driving a lightning-speed approach. Thankfully, there are schools like St Aloysius’ College proving that fast doesn’t need to mean frantic or filled with regret.
As an all-boys school in the heart of Sydney with a prestigious reputation to uphold, the St Aloysius’ team took their shift in technology seriously, allowing it to underpin a new strategic direction built on a ‘culture of communication’.
By bringing on well-connected technology partners and empowering the involvement of all staff members, the school has achieved a successful and all-encompassing technology revolution in less than a year.
For St Aloysius’ College, the challenge of communication was not just a burden internally but for parents and families of the school.
“If there was one area that we were lacking in when I arrived at the school, it was our capacity for effective communication with our community,” shares the school’s Principal, Mark Tannock. “St Aloysius’ had many wonderful things about it, but the way in which it communicated was not particularly modern, nor was it effective.”
“The community was calling for more effective communication, so there was that real sense of urgency. Parent feedback was telling us that we needed to streamline the way we communicate and ensure that we had one source of truth for all communications,” explains Mark.
According to Susan Ali, Director of Communications at St Aloysius’ College, the plan was to take an integrated approach to communications with their community for the sake of parents, staff, and students.
“We implemented Digistorm and Schoolbox in 2019, and we implemented Clipboard in 2021. Within a very short time frame — in six months — we were able to build and implement our app and portal,” shares Susan.
According to Mark, choosing an app as one of their key platforms for communication was part of a much broader strategic plan to communicate more effectively. “The ultimate goal of implementing these tools was to be able to connect with our community regularly, effectively and in a timely manner,” explains Mark. “It’s a really targeted and tailored communication strategy. We didn't realise the Digistorm App would become our most used communication channel.”
“I'd tell other schools who are considering this type of approach that you need a plan, and you need to distribute ownership across a school so that you're not just creating a system, but you're creating a culture of communications.”
~ Mark Tannock, Principal, St Aloysius’ College
For the team at St Aloysius’ College, integrations have been one of the most vital components of their technology success.
“Because the Digistorm App is so integrated with Schoolbox, we can actually develop anything in the system and push it out to our community really quickly. That’s transformed the way we communicate.” details Mark.
But it’s not just their SIS that integrates with their Digistorm App; their extracurricular management tool, Clipboard, does too.
“Clipboard felt like the icing on the cake for us after we implemented the Digistorm App and Schoolbox platforms. It further enhanced how we communicate by bringing extracurricular information to the forefront,” shares Susan.
“Every parent has experienced that Saturday morning where you're looking on your spreadsheets or your emails trying to find information about what oval your son is meant to be at or where they're meant to be for their music lessons or their drama productions. You may have sports people on the side of the field updating spreadsheets with information. Now that's all done through one platform, and it really has changed the way internal staff communicate information quickly.”
As a forward-thinking Principal, Mark embarked on a technology revolution for St Aloysius' College as the foundation of an important vision. “The choice of an app as one of the key platforms for communication was part of a much broader and fundamental strategic plan of how we were going to communicate more effectively,” Mark explains.
“Our parents and our staff and our students live in an increasingly busy world. There is an enormous amount of data and information coming at them on a daily basis. We need to simplify the information coming from the school. And the best way to do that was through an app. The app has proven to be a significant success for the college, being our major communication tool for parents.”
On all accounts, the goals the school had in mind for this key technology shift were achieved. In fact, it has even helped them achieve some goals they didn’t plan for. “It’s been a cost-saving exercise,” shares Susan. “The productivity that you get from reducing individual work and streamlining it into one platform is really efficient.”
“I attend a lot of parent events, and I always receive really good feedback from parents who have been with the school for a long time. Their son may have started in year three, and now they're in year nine or ten, and they have been on the transformational communication journey with us.”
“We were not expecting it to be one of the most popular communication channels, but it is. And that's because it's really delivered on bringing everything together—there’s one source of truth through the app. What the Digistorm App has allowed us to do is funnel everything through to people's fingertips on their phones, and that has been quite transformational.”
The adoption of new technology at St Aloysius’ College has been an undeniable success for the entire school community.
According to Mark, this success can be attributed to the demand from the community for better communication, as well as the way the new systems were rolled out.
“We charged all of our staff, including all of our teachers, with their own personal responsibility to contribute to the change. You need to distribute ownership across a school so that you're not just creating a system, you're creating a culture of communications.”